Whether you’re a startup, a mature company, or a mom-and-pop, without the right marketing and messaging, you are destined to fail.
Amanda Rabideau has spent her entire career helping businesses of all sizes avoid this fate. She’s the founder of Arch Collective, where she helps companies create marketing plans and strategies to reach their ideal clients.
Today, Amanda joins the podcast to talk about the benefits of hiring a fractional CMO instead of an in-house specialist, how to get multiple talented people to work for you without paying out a full-time salary, and the steps you can do right now to 10x – or even 20x – your business.
In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
Hi. This is your host, Andrew Rafal, the founder and CEO of Bayntree Wealth Advisors. And I want to welcome you to the Your Wealth & Beyond Podcast, a show that was created to help you simplify the financial world and to ensure that you’re living your best life now and in retirement. Each show we’re going to be bringing on experts that are going to help you build wealth and most importantly find purpose in what matters most.
[00:00:32] Andrew Rafal: Marketing, it is the lifeline for any business. No matter what stage you’re in, whether you’re a startup, whether you’re a mature company, or even just a mom-and-pop, without the right marketing, without the right messaging, you are destined for failure. So, today, I have a treat for you all, introduce you to Amanda Rabideau, who is the founder of Arch Collective. Amanda has spent her entire career helping businesses, both large and small, create the right marketing plan, the right strategies to help them reach their avatar client. In our discussion today, which I thoroughly enjoyed, we talked about what the differences between a marketing person in-house and hiring a fractional CMO. How, by doing that, you can leverage your dollars and have multiple people working for you without actually working full-time for you. We go through so many good things marketing as you know, listeners, is one of our passion. So, take some good notes. Without further ado, my episode with Amanda on how you can market your business to 10x and even 20x.
[00:01:47] Andrew Rafal: Welcome back to another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. And, Amanda Rabideau, welcome to the show. How are you today?
[00:01:56] Amanda Rabideau: I’m great. How are you today?
[00:01:58] Andrew Rafal: I’m doing well. I am doing well. So, I know we were just chatting. You’re in the San Francisco area and weather-wise, it’s always a little dicey this time of year.
[00:02:08] Amanda Rabideau: That’s right. You never know if it’s going to rain or be 70 degrees but I love it here so I’ll take it.
[00:02:14] Andrew Rafal: And listeners of the Your Wealth & Beyond Podcast, we are always trying to help business owners, entrepreneurs, build their business and find purpose and no better way to build a business no matter where you are, what stage you’re in is through marketing. And so, Amanda, you’ve spent your entire career and both sides working with entrepreneurs, startup companies, and bringing it all together on the marketing side. So, how did you get into this side of it, the passion for marketing, and starting back in those days working with companies in that growth mode?
[00:02:48] Amanda Rabideau: Well, it actually started very beginning in my career. I worked for a startup. It is my first role out of college. And I actually started in a sales role. So, I was one of the first salespeople. When I joined, we didn’t have any clients and so helped grow that business from the get-go. And after doing that for a couple of years, I was ready for a new challenge and got to take a role in marketing at that company. And from there, I got my MBA and then continue to pursue a career in marketing. I guess it’s just always fascinating how rather than a one-on-one conversation or that direct sales approach to be able to drive awareness or drive engagement around a product or a service through marketing. It was always fascinating to me and so that’s what I built my career doing.
[00:03:40] Andrew Rafal: When you think about startups and companies that have an entrepreneur that’s leading the charge, and they kind of have their own vision of whether it’s product or service, what are some of the mistakes that you’ve seen over the years that you try to correct as you go in and work with them especially as they try to get their messaging out there and get the marketing out there?
[00:04:02] Amanda Rabideau: Yep. So, I focused on a very particular niche in the business cycle and that’s working with post-Series-A-funded startup companies in the B2B tech space. And so, working in that space, I found that there are some very specific challenges that they face. These, I think, apply to businesses at all stages though but, specifically, in this post-Series A time. And the first one is that they just received essentially their first round of venture capital and so with that comes very aggressive growth targets and very high expectations. And it’s rare that there would be a senior marketing person in place at this time. And so, you’ve got all this money in your bank account. You’ve got these very high growth expectations. You recognize that it isn’t just direct sales that’s going to get you there. So, how do you leverage marketing? What do you do?
The second challenge is that if there has been a marketing hire, it’s likely been someone who’s either very junior or very specialized. And the challenges with both of those two are that if you have someone who’s very junior, they may be able to be very efficient at execution, rolling up their sleeves, putting out campaigns, doing AB testing, getting social out there, and getting some blogs out there, or whatever the case may be. But if they’re not doing it with the larger strategy in mind or they’re not thinking about the big picture, after a few months or a year, you may step back and say, “Wow. We spent a lot of money. We spent a lot of resources. But what did we get? And how has that helped us advance our business and the direction that we want to go?” And then on the flip side, if they hire someone who’s a bit more specialized, let’s say a brand marketer or just a product marketer, or just someone in demand gen, that person may be really good at going down that line.
[00:06:01] Amanda Rabideau: But then we all hear about wearing many hats at startup companies and that’s true in marketing as well. You need to have someone who can pivot a bit. And even with their best intentions, they may not be able to make the impact outside of their specialty that that business needs. And so, the way I set up my business is to address these exact challenges. So, there’s a fractional CMO, myself who comes in with a strategy, and then I have what I call the collective, which is my network of very experienced and incredible marketers and creatives that actually are able to deliver and execute on that plan that I put in place.
[00:06:41] Andrew Rafal: So, this term, fractional CMO, if I’m a listener and I’ve never heard that term before, how does it differ than if I just go hire an agency that’s going to help me do X, Y, and Z and cover both the social, digital, and the offline marketing and the messaging?
[00:07:00] Amanda Rabideau: That’s a great question and I think it really comes down to the way that I integrate and collaborate with the team. So, I’m actually a member of the executive team. And with my clients, I’ll be attending their executive meetings, I have OKRs, I’m embedded in the organization, I’m participating in what’s going on. And so, there’s a deeper level of understanding and integration that I’m able to bring to the table than just hiring some outside agency to come in and execute. The other piece, which to dive into the wealth side or the money side of it right away is that my business model, it’s a cash plus equity model. And so, the fact that I have a stake in the business and the fact that my incentives are aligned with the rest of the organization also make for a different impact as well.
[00:07:55] Andrew Rafal: So, when you in a sense, you are managing your freelance team so you’ve got people that you’ve got experience with that you know they’re going to do what is asked to them. And now me, as the entrepreneur who’s trying to grow and do 10 million things all in one day, now I don’t have to count on that where it comes down to me of having to drive the marketing message. So, over the years, you bring people to the equation that you’ve had the experience with and they can get things done?
[00:08:26] Amanda Rabideau: Exactly. The term we say is that we handle all of the marketing and strategy. So, if you think about it, imagine something comes up on the radar of the CEO or the CRO and they’re like, “Okay. We need something. We need marketing to handle this.” Well, they just call me up and then they know that it’s taken care of. And so, there is that confidence in my ability to get done what they need. The other thing that is important to mention here, and this comes with, I think, any external relationship, whether it’s an agency, a consultancy, a fractional CMO, whatever the title may be, that the relationship between myself and the client is so important because it’s the proverbial you get out of it what you put into it. And so, upfront, I spend a good amount of time learning the business, spending time with the executives, getting really clear on what their goals are, where they’re trying to take the business. And you might have heard this when people are talking about lawyer relationships or otherwise but the more honest they are upfront, the more I understand the business, the more we can get on the same page and be really clear that we’re in this together and we’re headed towards the same goal, the better the results always end up being.
[00:09:47] Andrew Rafal: Then how do you stay accountable? I assume you’re working right now all virtually so you’re just learning the business, trying to dig in, understand their messaging, maybe tweaking their messaging but then as I am president and founder of a wealth advisory firm and we do a lot of marketing and I’m actually in this transition. My Director of Marketing’s leaving. We’ve just hired a new person but there’s that lag time now where it’s like I have these different consultants that we’re trying to manage until the next one comes in. But how do you show me as the owner of the firm or the board of directors, whoever you’re working with, as these companies are trying to go from 5 million to 15 million very fast, what’s going on there? How are you showing what’s working? What isn’t working? Is it weekly meetings? Is it hitting, obviously, sales targets, things like that but how are you showing the success and even some failures when you guys are trying new things out there?
[00:10:40] Amanda Rabideau: Yeah. This is an ever-evolving process. There’s, for me, at least, I always think there’s a way to improve and a way to do it better. And so, over the course of my time in this business, I’ve evolved my practices and I’ve evolved my processes. So, I’m happy to share what I do today. And then if we have this conversation in a year, hopefully, it’s even better and evolved as well but I think you really nailed it when you said this is a virtual work environment. And I think outside of working with consultants, full-time employees are dealing with the challenges of being virtual and making sure that they’re communicating the value that they’re bringing or the amount of work that they’re doing. The main thing is around the communication. And you mentioned a couple of examples and, yes, I do attend meetings. So, I have, like I said, the weekly executive meetings. I have a weekly one-on-one with the CEO of the companies.
And also, I tend to have a one-on-one with the CRO or Chief of Staff, whoever my main day-to-day point of contact is. And interestingly enough, along those lines, I too typically come in and start to report to someone who is, like I said, the CRO or maybe a Chief of Staff. And over time, and this is something now that we implement from the beginning, I always end up reporting to the CEO because just like a CMO would report to the CEO, they find that it’s so much more valuable. In fact, I had one client that I’ve worked with for several months and we actually had the good fortune to meet in person. And he’s like, “Oh, man. I wish I would have started working more closely with you at the beginning.” He’s like, “I feel like I didn’t get as much out of you as I could have because you were reporting to someone else.” And so, now I directly report to him. So, I think that’s a great example of how having those meetings is, I think, bogged down as everyone’s Zoom calendars are or whatever video conferencing you’re using, having those meetings and making sure that there is that one-on-one time is important.
[00:12:45] Amanda Rabideau: The other thing that I have are a lot of checklists and Google Doc communications, where my clients can see what I’m working on. So, one of the first things, in fact, the first thing I do when I start with a client is put together a marketing plan. And this marketing plan takes several weeks and I’m not sitting next to them in an office typically. Maybe I will at some point but for now, I am virtual. So, how is it that they know what I’m doing and how I’m progressing? And so, I developed a checklist of all the different components that go into my marketing plan process. And in that document, I have both noted the days I receive things and the days I complete that activity, as well as a checkbox. And this goes through all the different items I use for a marketing audit, and all the voice of client or stakeholder interviews, the date I was introduced, the date the interview was completed.
And I think this really helps with accountability. So, at any given time, my clients can go in and look and see, “Okay. This is what Amanda has been working on.” And then at the end of each week, I do a check-in to say, “Okay. Let me review the output of what I’ve been working on,” so that way, we don’t end up with four weeks in here’s the marketing plan and potentially there’s some misalignment. We try and nip that in the bud each week. So, it’s both having documents that don’t require in-person communication but then maintaining in-person communication or over Zoom communication in this case as often as possible. So, that way, we can address things as quickly as possible and then pivot and learn and move forward. Because that’s what happens in startups, a lot of things change and so we need to be nimble and flexible.
[00:14:32] Andrew Rafal: And so, technology-wise, you mentioned the Google Docs. What about like a Monday or Trello, some of that project management software that can help make sure visually that I can see exactly what you’re doing? Is the Google Docs being sufficient for what you need?
[00:14:46] Amanda Rabideau: Yes. And there’s so much amazing technology out there. With each of my clients, they have their own technology that they use at their organization. And so, I try to flex to their needs. And typically, they’re trying new types of technology. In fact, I had a client that just implemented using Todoist as a way to track things and another client where they’re using Jira and Confluence to track things. And so, I’m constantly flexing and learning new technology and new programs that work with my client’s business. And typically, startups are using Google Docs for communication. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a client that hasn’t used Gmail for their email communication or used Google Docs at all. So, to me, it’s the lowest common denominator and that’s why I use it. If they have another system and they prefer that I put it into there, I can certainly transfer the information but Google is relatively commonplace and so it’s been the easiest and most nimble tool to use when tracking things.
[00:15:56] Andrew Rafal: So, I assumed that you can only bring on a set amount of clients with the amount of work that you have to do in the beginning to dig in to learn that potentially even their business what they’re doing, the inner workings of things, what their overall short-term plus that five-year plan, 10-year plan. So, it’s like your time can only be spent with a handful of clients or else you can’t bring the value. Would you say that’s accurate that you’re pretty selective in who you work with?
[00:16:21] Amanda Rabideau: Yes. At this point, that’s definitely the case and I certainly as an entrepreneur myself have ideas for ways that I can grow and expand because I think whenever it’s a business that there’s a lead person or there’s one person who’s doing the bulk of the work, that’s where you start to put a ceiling on your growth. And that’s even why I incorporated the idea of the collective because it gives me an opportunity to grow beyond what I could do just by myself. But at this stage, yes, I am being very particular and I only take a set number of clients. And in fact, I have a pretty rigorous process. And it’s something, again, I continue to refine to vet out clients and make sure that it is a good fit. Because while this isn’t a marriage, one might say, it’s a long-term dating relationship. I’ll be with them for a year, at least a year. And so, why not make sure that it’s a good fit on both sides because that benefits both the startup as well as my business if we make sure that it’s the right fit upfront?
[00:17:29] Andrew Rafal: And I’m thinking through with these Series A is really the beginning of bringing in the capital from first the angel, but I just can’t wrap my head around that these companies that are getting millions of dollars of funding that they don’t have a marketing team in-house or at least do they? It’s just that maybe somebody who all of a sudden they’ve got to wear that hat and they’re learning on the go and they’ve been okay enough to get them to where they are. Is that kind of what you see in these companies? Because if I’m growing a company, I’ve got to have somebody in marketing from the get-go.
[00:18:02] Amanda Rabideau: Well, they typically have done one a few or maybe all of these things but there could be someone that they are outsourcing things to. So, whether it’s outsourcing it to an agency or outsourcing it to something that we would traditionally call outsourcing like to go into another country to manage it, that happens a lot. And there are a lot of agencies that work with startups and they may get them their start with something like brand guidelines. Brand guidelines are the rules if you will around what colors to use, what fonts to use, the logos, the name of the company, all of those things. And so, something like that where you need the name of a company, you need a logo, you need some of these basic building blocks of a brand, those are something they might go to an agency or they might find a freelancer, a contractor, a friend of a friend to go out and do that.
And I think this in a way goes back to your question of what’s the difference between what I do and what an agency does. A lot of what they’re doing is project-based. So, it could be, “Hey, we need a new website or we need a brand or we need a campaign.” And so, they’ll come in and they’re going to do great work and they’re going to do their best on that particular project. Whereas I’m coming in and I’m seeing the entire arc of the business at least between Series A and call it Series B or an acquisition or whatever that end-stage might be. And I’m saying, “Okay. What are all the things we can do to make the biggest impact over the next 12 months to grow this business and to get them, get my client where they need to be, where their investors expect them to be?” And it could be a combination of several things. It’s not necessarily just project-based. So, having someone to oversee that entire strategy and really drive it, that’s where I really bring value with my model.
[00:20:02] Amanda Rabideau: And why at post-Series A it’s so critical to have someone like me because, yes, filling those gaps, plugging those holes with an agency here and outsource resource there may have made sense. But now all of a sudden, you’ve got to really put your foot down on the gas and you need someone who can make sure that you’re headed in the right direction.
[00:20:21] Andrew Rafal: And I assume it’s got to be hard for you as you help nurture these companies and the marketing helped to elevate them, and then all of a sudden, you’ve done what you’re supposed to do and they don’t need you anymore or they brought somebody in full-time. Has that been something you’ve dealt with yet where it’s like, “I go to let the baby go?”
[00:20:40] Amanda Rabideau: Yes. I have had to deal with that. And in fact, my very first client we ended up parting ways at the end of the year, end of 2020. And it is a little bit bittersweet because you’re like, “Wow. I put all this effort and energy in and I understand this business and I’m invested in the people and I built relationships with the people and I’ve built relationships with the brand and the company, and I care about it.” But that’s my business model. I’m not meant to be there forever. I’m not meant to be there for a very long time. But part of that, that exit strategy for me is making sure that I’m leaving it in good hands. I’m leaving that company with a plan with a way to continue to progress. And so, I’m actually in the midst of a transition period with another client, and they’re getting ready to close their Series B.
And so, we’re having a lot of discussions around the transition plan and what kind of CMO or VP of Marketing or who do they need to hire and what are the other members of the team that we need to start building out. And in fact, with that particular client, they’ve asked that I stay on, even after they brought in the new head of marketing just so that there is a little bit of overlap and we have some consistency. So, it’s all about leaving my clients in a great place. I don’t want to leave anyone high and dry and say, “Oh, oops. You got to this stage. Bye.” And I think that that’s something that is a really nice part about the businesses that I do build these relationships and I’m able to see them through until it’s time to, you know, I use the example once of it’s like taking your kid to college, right, where it’s like, “Okay. Go on and hopefully I set you up for success so that you can go and get your degree and change the world.”
[00:22:32] Andrew Rafal: Right. Or it’s like foster-caring a dog before it’s ready to go out and go back to a family to a forever home. But it’s probably going to happen though, especially if you’re doing your job and you’re successful as you are, they might come to you and say, “Listen, we need to hire you full-time and here are some shares in the company, little RSUs, some options,” then you’re going to have to make that decision. So, it may be an offer you can’t refuse in the future there but I guess that’ll be a good problem if that ever does come up.
[00:23:02] Amanda Rabideau: Yes. I have had two different companies actually bring up me coming on full-time. And it is, it’s hard because you’re like, “Wow. I’m really enjoying working here,” but just like they’re entrepreneurs building their business and fulfilling a dream of theirs to disrupt an industry or to change the way something’s done, that’s something that I have a dream for too. I’m building in my business. And so, as much as sometimes I don’t want to because it would be an easy solution, I have to turn them down.
[00:23:34] Andrew Rafal: And you must be, you know, when you’re dealing with business owners in the tech space, a lot of I’m not so much ego-driven but entrepreneurs we’re built a different way. And you as an entrepreneur, me as an entrepreneur but there’s a lot of times we have a lot of ideas, a lot of vision. And so, for you and your team, probably one of the things I would think of as the most important is to be able to kind of harness that and be able to dictate to them where this is we have a path and we can’t be just changing path over the course of this didn’t work or I’ve got this brand new idea or I was at a cocktail party and I heard this. So, is that something you have to deal with on a day-to-day because you’re actually with you not in their day-to-day, all of a sudden they’re going off on tangents and all the plans that you put in place that are starting to work, you know they’re starting to work. They may not see it yet. Like how do you negotiate those emotions and try to, in a sense, put them back in check?
[00:24:34] Amanda Rabideau: I wish I had the perfect answer to that question because it’s something that is a challenge and, in fact, I was speaking with a former colleague of mine last week and she’s Head of Marketing at a Series B company and she’s like, “I need some help getting buy-in from the CEO and constantly changing ideas.” And so, I think it’s something that regardless of your role in a marketing company, you’re changing, there’s the opportunity to deal with the CEO who’s going to change courses. I wish it’s something that, like I said, I had the best answer, the perfect solution for, but I think what I’ve learned from where things haven’t worked out well is that it’s about communication and in some ways about being not assuming, right? And we’ve all heard about not assuming and the old adage around that but I think it’s really important in a marketing role with the CEO.
Because a lot of executives, in general, think, “Oh, yeah. I get marketing. I know what marketing is.” But at the end of the day, I’m more of a marketing expert or most of the time I’m more of a marketing expert than they are, otherwise, they probably wouldn’t be bringing me in. And so, having to remind them of the why behind what I’m doing. I would say, “It’s not just that Amanda Rabideau wants to do this. This is good marketing practice to do this.” And so, in fact, I had a client recently where I presented the marketing plan and the very first slide or one of the very first slides is an overview of the business goals. And I check-in and I say, “Okay. These are the business goals. This is when I built the rest of this business plan. It’s all aligned to these three or four goals, whatever they may be. Did I capture these correctly? Are these, in fact, where you’re focused? Are these your priorities?” This particular client said, “Yep. These look good.”
[00:26:35] Amanda Rabideau: So, I’m like, “Great. Okay. Well, the rest of the plan is going to line up to those goals.” And then about a month after that plan, the client in a separate call said, “I’m really frustrated because you haven’t set us up or we’re not a month later the marketing leader in the industry,” and I was like, “Well, tell me more about that.” And they’re like, “That was our goal. That’s what we told you upfront.” And, yes, we could go back and forth of, “No, you didn’t say that. It wasn’t in my plan,” but at the end of the day, I see it. Maybe I didn’t do my job well either because did I not express the importance enough of those goals that I talked about in the marketing plan. And maybe it’s one of those we’re getting a written sign-off, which is now something I do where I have clients sign off on the goals, I haven’t signed off on the target audience, and some things because CEOs are constantly on the go. There’s a new challenge that’s arising or a new opportunity. And so, they’ve got to deal with tons of decision-making.
And so, it’s easy for them to not remember that they didn’t tell me or I would say it’s easy for them to forget that they may not have told me something or think that they told me something because they told someone else. And so, the more documentation, the more communication you can do, the less likely those scenarios happen. Because I want to make my clients happy that it’s fun for me and obviously, it’s fun for them because they see their business grow. And so, the more you can have written communications and documentation and reminders and it sounds a little bit bureaucratic if you will but it does help because CEOs have a lot going on. And so, the more you can help them and remind them of conversations that have been had, the better off you both will be.
[00:28:22] Andrew Rafal: And cash is obviously king as these companies are startup mode and survival mode and then into growth mode. So, having the ability to leverage you and your expertise and your team, what are some of the things that and I know it varies per company you work with but if the listeners out there thinking, “Okay. Marketing-wise, what is working right now?” And is there three things that you look at that’s working? Is pay-per-click working? Is it content to get the voice of that client out there to then help on organic placement? What would you give as your top takeaways as we enter here into 2021 trying to get the messaging out or who that company is, who they serve, what they do?
[00:29:07] Amanda Rabideau: As you were asking that question, I was trying to compartmentalize or bucket all the different things that I do and say what would be an easy roll-up way? Because you’re right. Each business is different and in some ways, it’s not that the businesses are so different but it’s the people that they’re targeting are different. And so, you probably have in your business a very specific demographic that you go after because to someone who’s 25 years old versus someone who’s 55-year-old, someone who’s single, someone who’s married, someone who has children, someone who’s never planning to have children, all of those things are going to change how you communicate to them the importance of wealth management. And that’s the same thing that my clients deal with. If you’re targeting the top 25 insurance companies or you’re targeting small business owners or everywhere in between, the best way to reach that audience is going to vary.
And so, if I had to give some sort of advice or recommendation, I would say if you’re a business owner and you want to understand how to market your business, start with talking to your clients, and I call this voice of client. It’s something I do for every client and this goes back to my days as a salesperson at a startup. When I was out there in the field and talking with the customers, I learned so much from them, whether it was, in fact, this was an orthodontic startup. And whether it was the orthodontist or the front desk staff or the orthodontic assistants in the back or the people taking the X-rays, everyone has their own perspective. And actually, that experience of being in sales has really driven how I look at marketing and why I call myself a client-centric marketer because I always like to start with the perspective of the client.
[00:31:01] Amanda Rabideau: And the more you understand your clients, the good ones and the bad ones, the more you understand, okay, I want more clients that are like the good ones, whoever they may be, and I want less of the clients that are like these bad ones, and whatever that may mean. And so, then you can say, “Okay. Well, these clients that are great, where do they get their information? How do they make their decision? Do they get it from listening to podcasts? Do they get it from reading blogs? Do they get it from scrolling through Instagram, or Twitter or their LinkedIn feed?” And so, as you start to get into the mind of the target audience that you’re going after, then you’ll be able to say, “Okay. I’m going to try these two or three things and see if they work.” And it’s really hard to say that there’s one fit for all of those but I do think just starting with a client, getting that voice of client will set you on a better path than you would be if you’re just trying to go out there and test.
[00:31:59] Andrew Rafal: I think you hit it on the head and we’ve been doing that for years is not whether it be surveys or in these client meetings from that standpoint, what are we doing good? What can we work on? What can we improve upon? But at the end of the day, if we have our top what we call platinum clients, we do want to clone them, and we want to figure out these are the people we like working with. They believe in our philosophy. How do we reach them? And so, by understanding who the people you already have working with you that you’re doing a good job for that appreciate what you do and having them explain to you these things, it’s amazing how much they open up. Because they almost feel like and I think it’s on any business but if the success that some of these clients who have been with me for almost 16, 17 years as I continue to grow and build this company, they almost feel like they’re part of the ride. And so, they want to be helpful in making sure other people can get the same type of level of service. That’s ultimately sometimes we found out there’s things we’re doing not well and we have to communicate this way. And I would never have known unless you ask.
And the other thing we’ve done over the years too is kind of put together a board of directors within our client base. And so, that’s nice because you get it from different walks of some executives, some retirees but like just having them be there to provide us some guidance. And it’s pretty cool to just watch them open up. And obviously, it depends on the industry that you’re in but, yeah, you can learn so much. You can hit it on the head there and learn from the people that you’re helping.
[00:33:28] Amanda Rabideau: Yep. And one quick follow-up thought is that one of the advantages for me, at least, to do this right at the beginning is that, and I think you articulated it so nicely, is that they want to share and I think especially with startup companies and I imagine it in your business, it’s similar because it’s intimate in a way, right? I’ll talk about startups and that you’re probably one of the very few set of clients, right? A lot of my clients, they could have four or five clients. Now, these could be multi-million dollar clients too but those clients are thinking, “Hey, if we bet on this horse this particular startup, we want to make sure that they win.” And so, it’s in everyone’s best interest to get that feedback to talk to them. And so, when I have these conversations, it’s almost like a little bit of a release valve where they’re like, “Oh, we’re so glad you’re asking,” and it is a bit of a brain dump like, “Here are the things I can’t stand. And this is why I loved you and this is why I picked you and this is how I found you.” And this is what you guys should be doing because I want to help you grow. On the flip side, if that startup doesn’t grow, then that person or that company that’s invested in their technology, they’re going to have to find an alternate source, which they don’t want to have to do. So, especially with startups, your clients are your best advocates because it’s in their best interest that you grow as well.
[00:34:57] Andrew Rafal: 100%. And if you don’t measure where those people are coming from, where your best clients are coming from, you’re just going to be, especially in a start-up there, it’s just going to be so difficult to take it to the next level. So, like when you talk about the engagement level for you, when somebody find you, first off, how do they find you? Let’s go through that, like a process of a company whether they’re getting funding. And before that, you only work with companies that are in that growth phase that just got funding? You’re not working with smaller companies that can maybe have some really good revenue, and can afford to pay you but maybe they’re not on their growth trajectory where they’re trying to 10 times within two years?
[00:35:42] Amanda Rabideau: For the most part, my business is focused on and I should say, yes, I work only with post-Series A B2B tech startups. I have taken on a handful of clients that are not in that area or in that zone and it doesn’t necessarily work for my model. The one exception is and something that I’m beginning to offer is actually for pre-seed-funded companies. And companies at that stage, they may not have a name or they may have a name of their company that another company has. And so, they’re like, “Oh, we need to rebrand. We need to name.” And so, I have a branding package that I can offer for pre-seed companies. So, that’s kind of the one exception but I really focused in on post-Series A because what I found is, in fact, I’ll use the example of a company I was working with that was pre-Series A and they were about to go into their Series A funding.
At that point, they were so focused on having their foot on the gas, if you will, that they didn’t want to take the time to put the proper structures in place. And by that, I mean, take the time to put together branding guidelines, take the time to put together a messaging framework, take the time to be strategic. They just wanted assets. They just wanted things out there. Well, I think you talked about how is it that companies don’t have marketing right away? I think that before Series A, that works because you’re just like throwing stuff out there and seeing what sticks but that’s not the way I help businesses market. I come in so I can be strategic so they can do it in a smart way so that we can get those structures in place. Otherwise, they’re building marketing on a house of cards. So, that’s why it’s not necessarily a good fit for my business as some of these other stages of a business.
[00:37:36] Andrew Rafal: Makes a ton of sense. So, if somebody does work with you, you have at least a time when you have mentioned earlier, it’s a year. Would it make sense to work with somebody for a quarter like you have to say, “We’re going to hire me and to understand my vision of what we’re going to do to help you, we need time?” And so, does that normally like a year contract that they’ll work with you?
[00:38:01] Amanda Rabideau: Typically, it is a year contract. I’m actually in communications with a potential client right now and they recognize that they need a full-time CMO and they actually would do the hiring process and then if that particular person didn’t end up working out or they were supposed to start and they didn’t have it, it wasn’t a good fit from the beginning. And so, we’ve talked about it where it’s actually a shorter engagement that we talked about and I’m going to be helpful in the process for them to hire that CMO but they need someone there to help fill the gap. Now, the other thing with that particular client, it’s someone from my network. And so, it’s a bit of helping a friend out too but for the most part, my engagements are about a year, which I think is a fair average for the amount of time between Series A and Series B and that’s really where I see myself filling the gap. Because once you get to Series B, you’re probably expanding into different industries or at least thinking about or expanding into different markets and thinking about it. And so, the need for a full-time team is greater than you would need right at that Series A timeframe, at least in my experience, what I’ve seen.
[00:39:17] Andrew Rafal: And then when it comes to budgeting, so you’ll kind of have a broad idea of, obviously, how much work you’re going to do, how much you’re going to get paid but then certain things like if we’re going to do different types of digital marketing and maybe potentially do ads, if we’re targeting these B2B, put ways to get in there, then that’s something that becomes more fluid. And if I’m a company like to say, “Okay. This is what we’re going to, in a sense, budget. We’re going to come somewhere in between here and here,” is that kind of how you look at it or is it strict and it’s straight and says, “We cannot go more than X amount of dollars,” and you make it work?
[00:39:52] Amanda Rabideau: Well, I mean, depending on the client. It tends to be the former versus the latter. And because I think I have yet to work with a business that if something’s working really well and it’s helping them make money, that they’re not willing to give more money towards that. So, if things are working, usually, they’re like, “Okay. Let’s do more of that. Let’s get more budget behind that.” But I mentioned the first thing I do is put together a marketing plan and in that plan is a budget where I say, “Okay. Based on these priorities, based on this strategy, here’s about how much it’s going to cost to do that.” And so, I do give them a budget upfront and if for some reason we’re way out of line where they’re overspending or underspending, we have those conversations. And again, this goes back to some of the first things we were talking about, which is, I’m very much a part of the team.
So, if I’m in these meetings or I’m having these conversations, then I am aware of, “Oh, look, Amanda, you have to pull back on budget because XYZ is happening.” In fact, I mentioned a client where they’re getting ready to close their Series B and so now is not the time for us to put a bunch of money into a new campaign. So, it’s like let’s wait 30 days. Once we close, then we can go ahead and spend that money. Again, it’s about keeping the lines of communication open and building in flexibility into the budget but, yes, I do give them a number and I do my damnedest to stick as close as I can to that number because I think that’s, again, part of my value and the trust that I do build with my clients is making sure that I’m actually delivering on what I tell them I’m going to do.
[00:41:35] Andrew Rafal: Now, that you’re a business owner or even for the past several years, I mean, as an entrepreneur and as a business owner, what have you learned trying to run a business? What’s been some of the takeaway for you as just trying to build this business and you’ve got this passion and trying to grow it and change an industry yourself?
[00:41:52] Amanda Rabideau: The main thing is that I can’t do it all. And so, the same way, I’m a resource to these startups because they may not be marketing experts so they bring me in to be the marketing expert, I need to bring in experts myself. Sure, I mean, I have an MBA so I can get in there and I can do accounting and finances and put together my financial statements but is that the best use of my time? Probably not. I mean, as a business owner, I certainly want to know what’s going on but I have a resource who comes in and helps me with that. I also have help with my marketing because what I found at the beginning was I was very much in the cobbler’s kids have no shoes, the marketing company has no marketing. And I was at least had enough EQ to say, “Okay. This is terrible.” Like, I cannot be talking about marketing and I never really liked this phrase but I need to eat my own dog food if you will.
And so, I make sure that I’m building in time to build out my marketing materials and make sure I’m doing the right things because I learned from all of that myself and I want to stay fresh. I need to stay steps ahead of my clients. So, in fact, at the end of last year, kind of beginning of this year, I dove into the world of TikTok and that’s not a place that I typically would be. Most of my B2B clients hadn’t been there but I wanted to experience that. I wanted to see what it was like. I want to be able to talk about it in case someone did have a question. So, that’s leaving time and building in space for me to create and experiment and work on my business is just as important as me working on my clients. And I think that that’s an important takeaway is to make sure that if you have your own company to spend the time investing in your company because that’s what’s going to help build it in the long run.
[00:43:43] Andrew Rafal: Do you have any full-time employees or is everyone more a contract that you bring on and that you then ultimately pay as a 1099?
[00:43:52] Amanda Rabideau: The latter, yes. Everyone is a contractor. I’ve been flirting with the idea of making a full-time hire. So, like I said, if you talk to me in a year, things may be different but at this point, I’ve been able to do it with contractors. I think that there are more and more people who are open to the idea of having some control over their schedule, right? I mean, you’ve had the gig economy starting with DoorDash delivery or Uber drivers and whatnot but professionals are beginning to look at the world in the same way. And I think that the last year, especially, has triggered a lot of people to say, “Okay. Why am I working for this person? I can be doing this work. I bring value,” and looking for ways to be entrepreneurial themselves. So, I think that there’s no shortage of talent out there in the freelance and contract working world. So, I’ve been fortunate to work with them and I’ll continue to as long as I can.
[00:44:49] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. I mean, you go out to Upwork right now and you can find anybody and anything from, I mean, it’s amazing. We’ve actually found some pretty good freelancers that have helped us but the problem is it’s just hard to sift through it all. And so, you’re more so sometimes just going with our gut. Our Director of Marketing can’t do it all. Like you said, on a pay-per-click side, we bring somebody in to help handle that campaign. More of she’s helping to drive the messaging and, in a sense, acting like what you do, right, is managing the projects and managing the brand and managing the messaging of what’s working, what isn’t, but she can’t do it all. And we looked at it the same way. For my business, I need to have somebody in-house here with me, right? But in a sense, she is acting like what you’re doing because we understand that we don’t need to hire three, four people underneath the marketing director. I just couldn’t afford it but now we can bring in these different projects, these different consultants, and there are so many people out there that are so talented. And if we can leverage that and do it economically, and they provide good work, and they understand it, then it’s a win-win across the board.
[00:45:51] Amanda Rabideau: Yeah. Couldn’t have said it better myself. An extra set of arms and legs when needed at the time and then when you don’t need them, you’re not paying them a full-time salary so it’s a win.
[00:46:01] Andrew Rafal: And I do like your comment there with regards to your own marketing. It’s the same thing like in our industry. If I’m working with a business owner and I don’t have my ducks in a row, what am I doing? And it’s crazy. I mean, I have state attorneys that we work with that do trusts all day long and they don’t even have one. It’s like what is going on here? And it’s just that mental lock that I’m going to get to it or I don’t need it or whatever it is but it’s amazing in different industries. So, I’m able to explain to a client just like you’re able to explain to your clients is like I’m doing the same type of thing that we’re helping you do. We’re doing it and making sure that we’ve got all of our ducks in a row because we can’t do it all. Same thing with regards to could I do my own books? Probably. But that’s not a great use of my time. So, having a great CPA firm, bookkeeping firm can help me stay accountable to myself, just like we help our clients stay accountable to themselves. And that’s a lot of where you can come in is helping to drive the train, helping them stay accountable, and doing it as cost-effectively as possible, which, obviously, in startup mode, that’s what they need to do to take it to the next level.
[00:47:14] Amanda Rabideau: And one follow-up thought to that because at the beginning where you talk about the purpose of this podcast, and it’s about fulfillment and living your best life as well. I love marketing. I really love what I do. I love helping business grow. I think it’s such a rush. When I put together a strategy, we execute on it, and then we see the results work out, to me, nothing is better. It’s fantastic. And so, it’s the same for my business. And so, I find that putting together marketing campaigns and doing that work and being creative and thinking, “Okay. How can I message something in a unique way or how can I draw these people in?” I truly enjoy that work. And so, when I find the time to do that for my business and I get to experiment a bit more because it’s only me that I have to be accountable to, it’s something that I actually find a ton of joy from doing it and it’s a way for me to tap into my creativity, which I love to use that part of my brain as much as I do, the quantitative and the right side of my brain.
[00:48:21] Andrew Rafal: You’ve chosen a perfect profession to be able to mold those two together. And you know, we love marketing here at Bayntree and it’s just lots of different marketing funnels. We always try to have seven or eight different things and one of the reasons I think people on the marketing side like working with us because we’re willing to try things. We’re willing to not just throw dumb money at it but we understand that certain things are going to work, certain things aren’t like starting this podcast a couple of years ago. Some people will say to me, “Hey, what’s your return?” Well, I don’t know. There’s no real quantitative. I know that somebody may come to our website, may read one of our blogs so we’re putting content all the time. They may find the podcast. This I think is the 58th episode, right? So, they may hear a couple of minutes of it and just say, “Okay. I think this team knows what they’re doing enough to maybe raise my hand and say, ‘Let’s chat with them.’” But quantitatively, like that’s one of the hard things you as in the marketing unless it’s like a sales generated and we’re doing pay-per-click and this is what’s happening, it’s so hard to quantify the return. But all of it’s working together to provide the ability for that company to grow and there’s just that cross-level marketing. So, yeah, it’s never-ending and I think in today’s world versus even 25 years ago, it’s just endless with what’s out there versus in the 90s and 80s without digital. It was just unsexy, right? It’s so much more sexier now and being able to try different things and pivot as quickly as you can.
[00:49:46] Amanda Rabideau: Well, it’s the conundrum of attribution and what we say in marketing and that like how do you know what is that thing that actually pushed them over the line to, like you said, call you and say, “Okay. Andrew, let’s talk about how you can help me.” Is it the podcast? Is it the blog? Is it all of it? Is it none of it? Was it a referral? Was it just coming, seeing your name come up on their LinkedIn feed? It’s how to attribute the campaign or the method that got someone to actually convert and become that lead is it’s hard to do even in the digital space. So, yes, it’s something that I think if someone can consult that they’ll be whatever, a very successful entrepreneur themselves. But I mean, there are certainly models and ways that you can kind of come across it but attribution is a tricky one in marketing.
[00:50:37] Andrew Rafal: So, if a firm wants to learn more about what you do, like what’s the process look like? They obviously have since it’s such a niche, they found you. Maybe they were referred to you but, ultimately, they want to connect. What does your process look like to understand that it’s going to be a value and a win for both sides before you start working with somebody?
[00:50:58] Amanda Rabideau: So, the first thing I do is have a quick 15-minute fit conversation. And it’s for me to learn a little bit more about their business and where they’re at and for them to learn a little bit about me and what I do. And if we agree at that point, that it’s still a fit, I have a survey that they fill out, that they complete, that gives me another level of information about them. I have an actual video about my business that I have them watch. And then at that point, we set up what I call a strategy session and it’s a 60-minute session where we deep dive on their business. And then from that, we say, “Okay. This continues to be a good fit and here’s my recommendation for how we work together,” and then we take it from there.
[00:51:45] Andrew Rafal: Yeah. It’s very similar to our process where we don’t want to just work with everybody who comes our way even if somebody has potential dollars or there’s things that we can manage. If they’re not understanding the full value of what we’re doing on the planning side, we know that client’s just either they’re going to leave us, they’re not going to be happy. And it sounds like you take that same approach where you want to really understand that you can come in and bring the value that they believe in what you do before jumping into it. Because for you, the last thing you need is the headache of dealing with somebody who’s not understanding what actually you bring to the table in three months. They’re mad at you and they want out of the contract, and then you’re spending your brain capital on that versus being able to work with the clients that you know you can provide the best value to.
[00:52:29] Amanda Rabideau: Exactly. It benefits both of us. It benefits the startup because they’re not investing in the relationship if it’s not a good fit, and then the same with us. I don’t pretend to be a venture capitalist in any way and that’s part of the reason that I like working with post-Series A is that I’m letting them do a little bit of due diligence for me. I mean, there’s a certain process you have to go through to get Series A and it’s obviously more companies get Series A, they get Series B, and they get Series C and so on down the road and go public or get acquired. But it’s just that one more level of scrutiny that a company has to go under as well. And so, I let the VCs do some of that diligence for me as a way to net out some clients that might be a better fit than those that aren’t.
[00:53:17] Andrew Rafal: That’s actually very wise. It makes a lot of sense there. Well, we’ve gone through a lot, listeners. This is great. There are so many good nuggets in here. So, as we end the show today, Amanda, anything that we left off or as we head here into what hopes to be back to some type of normalcy as we get into the middle part of 2021, any last bit of advice for the listeners that are trying to build and run their business?
[00:53:43] Amanda Rabideau: I think I would reiterate my earlier comments about listening to your clients. And, Andrew, you’ve done some great things having a board of advisors made up of clients and having your check-ins with your clients as well to whether it’s surveys or phone calls. And so, if you’re a business owner and you haven’t set up some cadence or mechanism to check in with your clients and pick their brain and whether it’s hiring someone outside of your organization to do it so they feel like they can be really honest or identifying a person in your organization, that would be the first thing I would do. You would be amazed at what you learn from just talking and listening or more listening than talking but listening to your clients. And then, of course, I’d be remiss not to mention that if you are an entrepreneur or a founder and want to talk to me to check out my website, Arch-Collective.com.
[00:54:36] Andrew Rafal: Wonderful. And, listeners, all of the details will be in the show notes. So, you’ll be able to very easily find out what Amanda and her team are doing both on her marketing side and then with all the social media links as well. Well, this has been fabulous. I appreciate it. I always learn something. Obviously, we’re not in that Series A funding here but marketing is our passion. You’re doing some great stuff continuing to work to change an industry and I think you’re going to be on to some great things. So, thanks so much for joining us today.
[00:55:05] Amanda Rabideau: Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed our conversation.
[00:55:08] Andrew Rafal: Wonderful. And, listeners, tune in later this month for a brand new episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. Happy planning, everybody.
[00:55:19] Andrew Rafal: Thank you for joining me for today’s episode of Your Wealth & Beyond. To get access to all the resources mentioned during today’s podcast, please visit Bayntree.com/Podcast, and be sure to tune in later this month for another episode of Your Wealth & Beyond.